A lazy remake of slippery Gallic drama L'Appartement - which starred Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci as two corners of a convoluted love square - Wicker Park sums up everything that's wrong with American remakes of foreign films: it's dumbed down so far, it's just plain dumb. Hartnett plays Matthew, who obsessively tracks his lost love (Diane Kruger) through the streets of Chicago. Sparks fly and confusion reigns as Alex (Rose Byrne) and Matt's old college buddy Luke (Matthew Lillard) are embroiled in the mix.
Is Josh Hartnett the new face of bland? After watching his disengaged performance in Wicker Park, you'd be forgiven for thinking so. A poor man's Keanu Reeves, his eyes are so heavy-lidded he's looks certain to fall asleep at any moment. One can't blame him for wanting to catch 40 winks in this lead-footed romantic thriller - a wannabe update of Vertigo that induces completely the wrong kind of dizziness.
"IT TROUNCES THE ORIGINAL'S AIR OF MYSTERY"
It's saying something when a movie's most restrained and impressive cast member is Matthew Lillard. With the rest of the foursome apparently overawed by the fact that they're in a remake of a French movie, Lillard alone invests his scenes with that twitchy mania he seems to have a patent on. The ponderous screenplay is rather less manic, trouncing the original's impenetrable air of mystery by trying to explain the convoluted plot twists in REALLY SIMPLE TERMS for the hard of thinking.
No stranger to the whizz, flash and bang of ultra-hip cinema, director Paul McGuigan (Gangster No.1) indulges his thoroughly cinematic eye to good effect. He even manages to make the obligatory split-screen sequences look good.
But then, looking good is the least of Wicker Park's problems. For the Hitchcockian twists of this drama to engage either the heart or brain, McGuigan needed something more of his visuals and his eye candy cast than just surface sheen. Pretty they may be, but they're also pretty vacant.